BENGALURU: The Ghost House at the famous water amusement park Wonderla on Bengaluru’s outskirts presented a real scare on Wednesday afternoon. An adult female leopard strayed into Wonderla and then took refuge in the Ghost House, even as unsuspecting visitors — families with children — passed it inside the thrill-house assuming it to be one of the scary items there!
Crowds that thronged this place reported seeing the big cat at 3 pm inside the scary Ghost House as well as near the Termite Coaster — where it was finally tranquillised and captured at about 5.30 pm by a 30-strong team comprising forest department and Bannerghatta Biological Park personnel. In fact, people outside the 82-acre Wonderla, located 28 km from Bengaluru, had reported seeing the leopard climb the compound wall of the water amusement park and entering near the roller coaster dry-and-wet rides. Once the news spread about a leopard entering Wonderla, panic spread in the amusement park. When the leopard was sighted, the place was immediately evacuated. The state forest department swung into action and rushed a team to catch and immobilise the leopard.
The scared animal was finally found inside the Termite Coaster. The forest personnel immediately netted the leopard to prevent its escape and then tranquillised it, before taking it out to Kumbalgodu state forest, Ramakrishnappa, assistant conservator of forests, Ramnagara Range, told The New Indian Express. They plan to release it in the wild.The park officials said a fire in the forest area opposite Wonderla at around 2 pm could have scared the leopard for it to take refuge at the park. The area is filled with stray canines, which leopards prey on.
One of the major attractions for children and adults alike on the outskirts of the city, Wonderla, where a leopard entered the premises on Wednesday afternoon, could be vulnerable to similar visits from the felines in the future.For one, it is the leopard habitat which has been encroached upon by construction on the fringes of a burgeoning metropolis, Bengaluru.
Prasanna Kumar A, honorary wildlife warden (Bengaluru Rural) has blamed the growing conversion of land in this area for commercial and residential projects. “We have cut off the movement of leopards and other wildlife near Bengaluru by construction of NICE Road and so they are now being sighted openly with no place to hide. In fact, with summer approaching, more animals will be sighted.”
Kumar added, “Further, with groups of street dogs congregating around WonderLa, it is no surprise that a leopard has been sighted attracted by them. This rocky hilly area itself was connected to Manchinbele, Turahalli and Bannerghatta National Park but now the wildlife movement has been cut off. If we take away their habitat, they will be visible often. Last week, a leopard was sighted in Bangalore University again.”
In fact, for villagers around the water amusement park it is common to sight leopards, which have a sizeable population in the area. What may have made it worse, is that the villagers feed stray dogs which are found in large numbers — a favourite prey of the leopards.